I Ching

LVI. 旅 The Lü Hexagram

Lü intimates that (in the condition which it denotes) there may be some little attainment and progress. If the stranger or traveller be firm and correct as he ought to be, there will be good fortune.

1. The first SIX, divided, shows the stranger mean and meanly occupied. It is thus that he brings on himself (further) calamity.

2. The second SIX, divided, shows the stranger, occupying his lodging-house, carrying with him his means of livelihood, and provided with good and trusty servants.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows the stranger, burning his lodging-house, and having lost his servants. However firm and correct he (try to) be, he will be in peril.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows the traveller in a resting-place, having (also) the means of livelihood and the axe, (but still saying), 'I am not at ease in my mind.'

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject shooting a pheasant. He will lose his arrow, but in the end he will obtain praise and a (high) charge.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, suggests the idea of a bird burning its nest. The stranger, (thus represented), first laughs and then cries out. He has lost his ox(-like docility) too readily and easily. There will be evil.

旅 – Lu
















Appendix 1

1. 'Lü indicates that there may be some small attainment and progress:'—the weak (line) occupies the central place in the outer (trigram), and is obedient to the strong (lines on either side of it). (We have also the attributes of quiet) resting closely attached to intelligence (in the component trigrams). Hence it is said, 'There may be some small attainment and progress. If the stranger or traveller be firm and correct as he ought to be, there will be good fortune.'

2. Great is the time and great is the right course to be taken as intimated in Lü!

Appendix 2

(The trigram representing) a mountain and above it that for fire form Lü. The superior man, in accordance with this, exerts his wisdom and caution in the use of punishments and not allowing litigations to continue.

1. 'The stranger is mean and meanly occupied:'—his aim is become of the lowest character, and calamity will ensue.

2. 'He is provided with good and trusty servants:'—he will in the end have nothing of which to complain.

3. 'The stranger burns his lodging-house:'—and he himself also suffers hurt thereby. When, as a stranger, he treats those below him (as the line indicates), the right relation between him and them is lost.

4. 'The stranger is in a resting-place:'—but he has not got his proper position.

'He has the means of livelihood, and the axe:'—but his mind is not at ease.

5. 'In the end he will obtain praise and a (high) charge:'—he has reached a high place.

6. 'Considering that the stranger is here at the very height (of distinction),' with the spirit that possesses him, it is right he (should be emblemed by a bird) burning (its nest).

'He loses his ox(-like docility) too readily and easily:'—to the end he would not listen to (the truth about the course to be pursued).


LVI The name Lü denotes people travelling abroad, and is often translated by 'strangers.' As early as the time of king Wăn, there was a class of men who went about from one state to another, pursuing their business as pedlars or travelling merchants; but in Mencius II, i, chap. 5. 3, it is used for travellers generally, whatever it was that took them out of their own states. Confucius himself is adduced as a travelling stranger; and in this hexagram king Wăn is supposed to have addressed himself to the class of such men, and told them how they ought to comport themselves. They ought to cultivate two qualities,—those of humility and integrity (firm correctness). By means of these they would escape harm, and would make some little attainment and progress. Their rank was too low to speak of great things in connexion with them. It is interesting to find travellers, strangers in a strange land, having thus a place in the Yî.

For the manner in which the component trigrams are supposed to give the idea that is in Lü, see Appendix II. In Appendix I there is an endeavour to explain the Thwan by means of the lines and their relation to one another.

Line 1 is weak, in an odd place, and at the very bottom or commencement of the hexagram, These conditions are supposed to account for the unfavourable symbolism and auspice.

Line 2 is weak, but in its proper place. That place, moreover, is the central. Hence the traveller—and he might here very well be a travelling merchant—is represented in the symbolism as provided with everything he can require; and though the auspice is not mentioned, we must understand it as being good.

Line 3 is strong, and in an even place. But it occupies the topmost place in the lower trigram; and its strength may be expected to appear as violence. So it does in the symbolism, and extraordinary violence as well. It seems unreasonable to suppose, as in the conclusion, that one so described could be in any way correct. The Khang-hsî editors remark that the subjects of 2 and 3 are represented as having 'lodging-houses,' and not any of those of the other lines, because these are the only two lines in the places proper to them!

Line 4 is strong, but in an even place. Hence its subject has not a lodging-house;' but has found a situation where he has shelter, though he is exposed to perils. Hence he is represented as having an axe, which may be available for defence. Still he is not at peace in his mind. The Khang-hsî editors observe well that the mention of an axe makes us think of caution as a quality desirable in a traveller.

Line 5, though weak, is in the centre of the upper trigram, which has the quality of brightness and elegance. It is held to be the lord of the trigram Lî; and lines 4 and 6 are on either side in loyal duty to defend and help. Then the shooting a pheasant is supposed to be suggested; an elegant bird,—by the trigram of elegance. When an officer was travelling abroad in ancient times, his gift of introduction at any feudal court was a pheasant. The traveller here emblemed is praised by his attached friends, and exalted to a place of dignity by the ruler to whom he is acceptable. It will be seen how the idea of the fifth line being the ruler's seat is dropt here as being alien from the idea of the hexagram, so arbitrary is the interpretation of the symbolism.

Line 6 is strong, in an even place, at the extremity of Lî and of the whole hexagram. Its subject will be arrogant and violent; the opposite of what a traveller should be; and the issue will be evil. The symbolism must be allowed to be extravagant. What bird ever burned its nest? And the character for 'ox' is strangely used for 'ox-like docility.'

App-1-2:LVI What is said in paragraph 1 is intended to explain the Thwan, and not to account for the meaning of the name Lü. It is assumed that Lü means a stranger; and the writer from the position of the fifth line, and from the attributes of the component trigrams, derives the ideas of humility, docility, a quiet restfulness, and intelligence as the characteristics proper to a stranger, and which are likely to lead to his attaining what he desires, and then advancing.

App-2-2:LVI Different attempts are made to bring the idea of a travelling stranger out of the trigrams Kăn and Lî; but none of them is satisfactory. Let Khung Ying-tâ's view serve as a specimen of them:—'A fire on a mountain lays hold of the grass, and runs with it over the whole space, not stopping anywhere long, and soon disappearing;—such is the emblem of the traveller.' The application may be derived well enough from the attributes of the trigrams; but does not fit in with the lessons of the Thwan and Hsiang.

The meanness of the subject of line 1 does not arise from the nature of his occupation; but from his mind and aim being emptied of all that is good and ennobling.

Strong and trusty servants are the most important condition for the comfort and progress of the traveller; and therefore it alone is resumed and expanded.

The subject of line 3 treats those below him with violence and arrogance, which of course alienates them from him.

'He has not got into his proper position' seems to say no more than that 4 is a strong line in an even place.

It is difficult to say what 'he has reached a high place' means. The fifth line is not in this hexagram the ruler's seat; but by his qualities and gifts the subject of it attracts the attention and regard of his friends and of his ruler.

The spirit that possesses the subject of line 6 is one of haughty arrogance, with which the humility that ought to characterise him cannot co-exist. His careless self-sufficiency has shut his mind against all lessons of wisdom.